Death toll on the rise after Japan is hit by massive earthquake

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TENS of thousands of troops are hard at work in the Kyushu region of Japan after the area was rocked by a 7.3 magnitude quake in the early hours of Saturday April 16.

At least 20 people have been declared dead and hundreds more have been injured, according to media reports.

The troops have been sent to rescue the dozens upon dozens of people who are trapped in the rubble from the collapsed buildings.

The quake, which had its epicentre near the city of Kumamoto, is the second in a week in the area after an earlier one left nine dead on Thursday (April 14). However, the more recent quake was much stronger and also covered a wider area. Widespread damage has been reported to buildings and roads, while around 200,000 homes have been left without power and over 90,000 people have been forced to evacuate their residences.

Experts have warned that there could be further aftershocks, which would potentially make an already devastating situation even worse. Forecasted rain in the near-future could also potentially lead to mudslides, and meanwhile a nearby volcano has erupted, although this is thought to be unrelated to the quake and the effects from the volcano have reportedly been limited.

Kumamoto prefectural official Tomoyuki Tanaka has stated at the death toll is continuing to rise by the hour.

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